Hello…It’s Me…

 

It’s been awhile.  For about a year now, I thought of abandoning my blog for good.  I simply couldn’t find my creative spark anymore.  It was like a fight every time I would try to write here and I started avoiding it to prevent beating myself up and the frustration of what direction to go.

Well, I’ve been on a bit of a journey of reinvention lately.  I know–so deep.  It all started on my 58th birthday.  Over the past year or so, I kind of lost my mojo, so to speak, but when I turned 58, I realized that it’s either give up and grow feebly old, or keep fighting.  I am after all a fighter, so I made the decision to work on becoming the best I could be by the time I’m 60.  You know, make a comeback and not just physically, but mentally and emotionally-to connect to the world and find my center, to use a hackneyed phrase.

Anyway, as I began this journey, I knew I needed to make some changes (more about that another day) and I thought a lot about my love of writing and my blog. When did I get waylaid?    When I first started Blinders Off, I had a focus and an outlet for all my feelings and the writing just flowed. I loved it.  It felt so right.  I see now that my problem started when I tried to maintain that focus and when I couldn’t, I thought I needed to find another one–I don’t.

What is wrong with writing what ever I want, about what ever I want and see what it becomes?  So simple, yet I couldn’t see it.  I need to relax and breath and let my naturally creative juices flow.

I am enjoying my “journey of reinvention,” so corny.  I’m not going to call it that anymore–I promise.  Happily, even at this stage of my life,  I am learning so much about myself and others. That’s pretty cool.  There are some big changes heading my way, (more about that another day too) but instead of white-knuckling it, or saying I’m too old for this, I’m calling the changes adventures and am preparing myself for the ride.

For now, I’m leaving you this video here, which I would like to dedicate to The Church of Jesus Christ and its leaders.  I remember feeling this way when I was in The Church and also as I was leaving it.  I feel compassion and empathy for those who are still deep into it and are struggling.  Some day when you have had enough, you will walk away, then  you’ll skip, and then you’ll run and then life will begin.

Shoot me down, but I won’t Fall

I was trying to decide which song I wanted to post first and decided on this one.  I prefer the EDM version, but for this post, I think this video is better. It’s not really on the unrequited love theme, but definitely love lost—friend and family love.

Listening to this song made me think of all the friends I’d lost and how my mother and sister treated me.  In my early posts I wrote of  the suffering I went through from the loss. At times it was almost unbearable. I ran and hid. I was always on the offensive and always feeling like I had to be the one to mend those relationships, because I was the bad one—the one who no longer believed.

Of course, at some point I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, I was no longer a Christian and so I no longer had a place at the table—figuratively and literally.  They were done with me, but not before they did their “Christian duty.” I love the one line in the song: “Stone hard, machine gun, firing at the ones who run, stone-hard as bulletproof glass.”  They do fire at the ones who run, don’t they?  Thankfully, I kept running–in a zigzag pattern, of course, as to survive.

Most importantly the song continues to remind me of just how far I’ve come.  I’m stronger now—Titanium.  Those people can’t hurt me anymore.  They may pity me, but they are the ones who should be pitied.  They are the ones who now no longer have a place at my table and you know what?  It’s their loss.

I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose.

 

Footprints

footprints 2Wow, I haven’t been here for a while.  Not even a 30-Day-Challenge could keep me honest.  You wait though, because I am going to blog 30 in a row.  I really am!   Anyway, I just got back from a few days in Laguna Beach.  It was an incredible time I have to say.  I didn’t realize, until I was there, just how badly I needed a beach fix.  I did gain some insights while I was there and I will share them with you in the next couple of blogs.

The first one hit me as I was walking alone on the beach.  As I looked back and saw the long trail of footprints I left behind, it called to mind that poem.  You know the one, “Footprints.”  It’s where “The Lord” tells the poet that when there was only one set of footprints in the sand,  He (god) was carrying them through their most challenging times.  As I considered my own lone footprints, I thought, “That is such bullshit.”  I also thought about how I would revise that “poem” if I could.  I decided that the only thing that needed revising was the last few lines.  Here is the poem with its revisions:

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
 Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. 
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints; 
other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed
 that during the low periods of my life,
 when I was suffering from
  anguish, sorrow or defeat, 
I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, 
”You promised me Lord,
 that if I followed you,
 you would walk with me always.
 But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
 there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
 Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, 
‘The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, 
that is when you realized I was never there; I was a figment of your imagination and it was you and only you who stood strong and persevered on your own.  It was your resilience and strength that carried you through. You thought you needed someone bigger and more powerful outside of yourself, but you didn’t.  There was only you.”

Many find comfort in the old version of that poem.  I do not.  It is much more comforting and also empowering to know that we are all we need. We are enough.

Well…He says He’s a Christian…

LINCOLN BIBLE-AP PHOTO-OBAMA OATHMark Driscoll is the pastor of Mars Hill, a mega church in Seattle. One Newsweek blogger, David Sessions, writes that Driscoll is “a testosterone-oozing Calvinist bruiser who shouts at his congregation, swears from the pulpit, and sometimes seems to think that if you’re not cut out for the locker room, you’re not cut out for heaven. If you’re a woman, you’d better make sure you keep your husband fed and serviced.”   I thought that sounded a bit harsh, so of course, I did my own research.  Come to find out, this particular blogger was way too kind.  I was shocked at what Driscoll is quoted as saying and writing.  Even as an ex-Evangelical, who has dealt with more than a few narcissistic pastors.  I want to spend some time on Driscoll in upcoming posts, but for now I want to touch upon one of his recent tweets and one of my pet peeves about the Christian community and more specifically Christian pastors.

Here’s the tweet: “Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”  

There it is.  Pastor Driscoll knows the hearts and minds of men and has deemed Obama a non-believer.   Well, he did say, “likely does not know,” psh! When I read that tweet, I got so angry and I’m learning that if I have a visceral response to something, a tender, and not yet healed area in me has been jabbed at.  I figured it out pretty quickly.  It reminded me of how important it was to look and act like a “Christian,” in the Christian community:  Show no cracks, have no struggles, unless they were acceptable struggles, follow the rules, and most importantly, you and your kids better “look” Christian.  Driscoll’s whole attitude brought to mind how Christians constantly judge other Christians and, as a Christian, you are always on your guard, because you certainly don’t want to be judged and your authenticity questioned—but it is; it always is.

The associate pastor at my old Church, Parkway Community Church, was always saying, “Well, they say they’re a Christian,” which always suggested that their salvation was in question for myriad of reasons.  These reasons, of course, were confidential and so you wouldn’t find out just what they were until your small group offered them up as vicious pieces of gossip—oops!  I mean prayer requests.

Christians who would say that this does not take place in their church on a regular basis, is lying to themselves, or…they are the one who is most guilty of doing it.  To be fair though, some churches are worse than others.  I have found it more prevalent in Calvinistic churches.  Calvinists are just meaner than your average run-of–the-mill Evangelical, and I say that having been one—an Evangelical and a Calvinist.  Looking back, I can see how the more Calvinistic I became, the meaner I became—seriously mean and judgmental.  I saw it happen in others too.  I wonder why that is?

As far as Driscoll’s tweet on Inauguration Day goes, I hope he is right about Obama.  I would feel better knowing that our President doesn’t live his life according to a book of myths and seek help from an imaginary friend, but as awesome as Mark Driscoll thinks he is, in the Christian world, he can’t know a man’s heart.  No one can.  He’s in my cross hairs now and I will have more to reveal about him very soon.   I mean, I’ll have some prayer requests to share…

Santa Baby

Jesus-and-SantaMy kids weren’t raised to believe in Santa.  At first it wasn’t really about Jesus or religion, it was mostly because of how I had felt as a child when I found out there was no Santa and my parents had been lying all of us.  It really impacted me and I could not rationalize lying to my kids like that.  So, they always knew.

As I became more and more entrenched in Christianity, Christmas became more of a religious thing.  We basically ignored Santa and focused on the “reason for the season,” Jesus.  Why put any energy into someone who was make-believe when you had the savior of the world to celebrate?  I know…I know.  And yes, I did make a cake on Christmas Eve and yes, we lit candles and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.  It was always red velvet cake too—you know, to represent his blood shed for us…ugh, I feel like I need a shower now.

It gets worse.  First though, I want to touch upon another cringe-worthy symbol, one that is seen around Christmas time–the Santa kneeling at the manger of Jesus.  When I was a Christian I didn’t like it because, you know, Santa’s not real.  I know…I know.  As a non-believer, it actually makes sense.  You know, two pretend characters coming together—one brings toys and the other brings peace and salvation, kind of like the dynamic duo…yes, indeed; it makes total sense.

Now, let me get to the “worse” part.  As I considered the ridiculousness of Santa worshiping the baby Jesus, I unfortunately remembered something that happened when my older daughter was about two. We had just finished up Christmas shopping at Target and she was getting a little antsy.  We were at the check out counter and I was trying to get her to sit down in the cart.  That’s when the cashier said to her, “You’d better be good.  What would Santa think?”  My little girl looked utterly confused.  My kids always thought it was weird when adults would talk about Santa like he was real…pshhh, ridiculous!  I stopped and looked at the cashier and valiantly said, “We prefer to worry about what Jesus would think,” as I smiled at her, took my receipt, and walked piously away.  Ahhhhhhh…slaps self on forehead…I did NOT say that to her…yes I did.  I can’t even express how obviously ironic that statement is to me now.

What is that sound?  Why it’s the cringe heard ‘round the world…

Suffer the Children

67938_305412512908484_1193109497_n-1Today’s post will be short, because most of the work was done for me.  Thank you Crazy, Sappy Christians, on facebook.  Anyway, so this picture and the following poem were on the wall of a friend and it pissed me off so much, I had to comment.  I didn’t want her to be all hurt and mad, so I found the original poster’s wall and commented there. You would not believe some of the comments people wrote–embarrassing.  There’s not enough room to share them, but I wanted to share my comment because it is exactly how I feel.  I’m going to post the poem first, to give context and then I’m going to share my comment, with commentary.

Here’s the poem:

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38

when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.

They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.

They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.

“This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,

but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.

He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.

Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring

Those children all flew into the arms of their King

and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,

one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had,

He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”

Then He looked down on earth, the world far below

He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe…

then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,

“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”

“may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”

“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”

then He and the children stood up without a sound.

“Come now my children, let me show you around.”

excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.

All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,

“in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

— with Andrea Marie.

Here is my original facebook comment:

“There are so many problems with this:  First, so Jesus has the power to protect and alter things and yet he let the children be slaughtered. Second, he promises that he will take care of the one little girl’s parents after he stood by while their lives were decimated?  What kind of monster would do that? Third, he’s going to retake “His Nation” now? When is he going to retake the nations where women are treated like animals and children starve to death in the arms of their mothers by the hundreds? And finally, I don’t get accompanying picture.  Do the little children have to go to school in heaven or was Jesus in school with them and stood by as a young man mowed them down? Perhaps he’s decided to start hanging out there again. I’m not sure why this would comfort anyone and why anyone would consider this beautiful…I guess it’s just me.”

It’s obvious that the idea that the massacre was due to god’s judgment is the underlying theme in the poem, because it says that Jesus is now going to deliver the country from “the hands of fools” and he’s now decided to let his “power and presence, reenter this land.”  So, evidently we were bad and so he wasn’t here.  Also, where are the adults that were killed?  What about Ms. Soto, the teacher that hid her children and lied to protect them and lost her life?  From some of the comments I’ve read about her, made by Christians, she showed way to much cleavage and supported gay rights…Well, I guess we all know where she went.

I’m sorry.  I’m not feeling very empathetic today.  Christianity is gross

I Can’t Remember…

smelling a flower“I miss the smell of Christmas,” He said nonchalantly.

My breath caught and my chest tightened.  “What do you mean?”  I asked, already knowing and trying desperately to sound normal.

“I don’t know…I remember that Christmas had a special smell, you know, and when the air smelled that way at other times, I would remember Christmas. It felt good.  I don’t have that anymore.”

I could feel that familiar lump in my throat, the one I always get when I think about that day, and although I was fighting it, tears began to well up in my eyes.  Thankfully, he was unaware of the impact his words were having on me and I was determined not to let him know.  He talks about it so little, I don’t ever want to react in a way that would make him feel hesitant to do so.

“I really think memories are linked to smell,” he continued, “like Thanksgiving and other times.  It’s as if not being able to smell anymore, is causing those memories to fade and I miss them. I miss the smell.”

All I could say was that I was sorry and then I reminded him of all the other things related to memory and the good times we have had and again, I reminded him that perhaps one day that part of his brain will heal and those smells will return and he will appreciate them in a way he never could have otherwise.  I reminded him of how lucky he is that in spite of his brain injury, he can laugh and walk and talk and play basketball, and be treated normally.  He nodded.

After that, all I could do was hold my breath and hope for control, at least until I dropped him off at school.  Then I could give in.  It’s like a panic attack I think—the tightening and the sinking feeling.  It’s almost like reliving that day.  Just like when I drive by that hospital—the one where I first took him, certain there was something horribly wrong.

Kids are resilient though—we all are.  He’s come a long way.  He has gone from saying, “If I have to stay this way, I will kill myself,” (He didn’t know that it was probably permanent at the time) to smiling at me and telling me dinner is good and taking the Spirit Championship for his senior class by drinking a horrible concoction in the fastest amount of time.   All in all, it’s okay now.

Some people say if they could go back and change a horrible incident in their lives, they wouldn’t, because of what they have learned.  I guess they are better people than me, because if I could go back to that day, I would have insisted on giving him a ride to soccer practice instead of letting one of his teammates do it.  Life doesn’t work that way though and I can’t go back.  We just find the good where we can.  We’re closer, I’m more understanding of those who have to see their children suffer, and Noah has a greater appreciation for things he didn’t before.

One of the most difficult things is helping people understand the gravity of his loss.  He lost one of his senses, one that adds vibrancy to life, but also one that protects him from harm (Toxins, smoke, etc.)  It’s a huge loss, yet people tend to make light of it.  That is until I tell them the,“I Miss the Smell Of Christmas” story and suddenly, in their eyes, I see it—the light of understanding.  That means everything.

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